If Cristian Pavon is the No. 1 driver of the surging LA Galaxy's success since Phase 1 of the MLS season restarted in August, then Sebastian Lletget is No. 1-A. And the stability Guillermo Barros Schelotto's 4-2-3-1 has given both men would qualify as No. 1-B.
In particular, after Lletget started in five different roles across four different starting formations in the early stages of the 2020 season, Schelotto's decision to employ the midfielder as a No. 10 has born the fruit of career form for the 28-year-old.
Lletget has four goals and two assists since the Phase 1 restart, including that sensational scissor kick to cap an emphatic victory over LAFC:
A deeper dive into some of his analytics indicators show that increased production does not appear to owe to random chance, with his shots per 90 minutes and touches inside the 18-yard-box among those that have spiked substantially since the tactical tweak.
|Season||Shots per 90||Shots inside 18 per 90||% of passes in final third||Touches in 18 per 90||% touches in 18|
|2020, Games 1-5||1.16||0.93||45.6%||1.86||2.98%|
|2020, Games 6-9||2.82||2.82||50.0%||6.77||10.91%|
Yes, this success has come while Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has been out with a calf injury. But there's no obvious reason why they can't play the same shape with Chicharito sliding back into the No. 9 role. Mexico's all-time leading international goal scorer may be less of a true aerial or back-to-goal target than Ethan Zubak, who has filled in during his absence. But he's hardly a false nine, either.
What it looks like with Pavon, Lletget and Chicharito all on the field in a 4-2-3-1 could be apparent as soon as Sunday night, when the the latter is expected to make his return during a trip to visit the San Jose Earthquakes (11 pm ET | TV & streaming info). However, having not played game minutes since July, it's more likely Chicharito would enter as a substitute rather than start for Schelotto.